Deprived of Sidewalks, Pedestrians with Visual Disabilities are Vulnerable to Risk Their Lives

Deprived of Sidewalks, Pedestrians with Visual Disabilities are Vulnerable to Risk Their Lives
Writer :
Iin Saputri
Editor :
Intan Qonita N
Translator :
Intan Qonita N

Today, January 22 a decade ago, an unfortunate incident occurred on the highway in the Tugu Tani area, Central Jakarta. The fatal accident caused by the negligence of the Xenia car driver killed nine pedestrians; eight people died at the scene, while one person died in hospital.

The Pedestrian Coalition later designated January 22 as National Pedestrians Day. Not only to commemorate the tragedy, the establishment of National Pedestrian Day also aims to increase public awareness of the importance of pedestrian safety.

Citing the page (22/1/2021) which launched the Global Health Report on Road Safety 2018 issued by the WHO, the number of deaths due to traffic accidents in 2016 reached 31,282 people. Of this number, pedestrians are the second most common victims who die from traffic accidents, after motorcycles, which are in first place, which reached 74 percent.

Walking is the right of everyone, including people with disabilities. Every effort is made by stakeholders to ensure that public facilities such as roads can be easily accessed by people with disabilities. The construction of pedestrian paths such as sidewalks and crossings is intended to ensure the safety and comfort of pedestrians.

However, it must be admitted that not all of these facilities are truly accessible for persons with disabilities. For example, the crossing light switch is positioned too high, making it difficult for wheelchair users to access independently and information written in complicated and ineffective language that is difficult for people with intellectual disabilities to understand. In addition, there is a risk of life for the visually impaired when the sidewalk is taken as a parking area or a place to sell.

Why is it said that life is at stake for walking person with disabilities? When person with visual disabilities walk on a predetermined path but it turns out that the place has been used by motorists and traders, then there is surely no other choice but to avoid and get out of the lane, and eventually deviate onto the road so that there is a risk of being hit by another vehicle.

A video uploaded by a person with visual disabilities YouTube blogger (YouTuber) named Jack on his personal channel Blindman Jack (11 January 2022), shows another example of risking lives by blind pedestrians.

In the video, Jack tries to ignite the awareness of motorists to be more tolerant of pedestrians from people with disabilities, especially those with visual impairments. It was shown that even though they had crossed the crossing and raised a stick as a sign so that the drivers could give way, it turned out that the drivers did not care.

Likewise, the button on the crosswalk light does not give any indication when pressed, where the light should be able to give a signal if it is functioning properly. This is certainly sad and apprehensive.

At the end of the video, Jack advises the drivers to use their common sense. "I advise motorists, use your common sense. If there is a blind person who has raised a stick and he wants to cross, why don't you want to stop for a moment? Just how many billions you lost that you don't want to stop (your vehicle), for ten seconds or five seconds please stop so I can walk."

What Jack experienced is a portrait of the obstacles faced by many pedestrians with visual disabilities in the country. Certainly this should not be allowed to drag on. The government and all related stakeholders need to continue to build public accessibility in order to provide comfort and safety for pedestrians from all walks of life.

In addition, the general public needs to continue to increase their awareness of the importance of road safety. Drivers need to be more caring and tolerant because pedestrians from the disabled have the same rights when using public facilities.

Happy National Pedestrians Day 2022!
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